|Monday’s bomb blast in Lakki Marwat is the latest in a string of attacks to hit northwestern Pakistan [EPA]|
Up to 19 people have been killed and more than 50 others wounded in a suicide blast near a police station in northwestern Pakistan, according to government officials.
Monday’s attack in Lakki Marwat, a town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa not far from tribal areas that are a stronghold of the Taliban, is the third such incident in Pakistan within a week.
Nine police officers are believed to be among the dead, Mian Iftekhar Hussein, the province’s information minister, told Al Jazeera.
“A suicide attacker drove his bomb-laden vehicle into the back of the police post,” Gul Wali Khan, a local police officer, told the AFP news agency by telephone.
An official said the death toll could rise as the police station collapsed after the blast and workers were trying to rescue people trapped in the debris.
Destroyed police station
Imtiaz Tyab, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Islamabad, said that it came as no surprise that the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
“To give you a sense of just how poweful this blast was, the police building which was targeted, literally collapsed from the force of it. Now the Pakistani Taliban as we know, has taken responsibility for a string of attacks that have rocked Pakistan in the past week,” he said.
The Pakistani Taliban further threatened on Friday to launch attacks in the US and Europe “very soon”, two days after the Washington added the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Taliban Movement of Pakistan, to its list of “foreign terrorist organisations”.
“They did say that they had planned more attacks,” our correspondent said.
Local TV footage showed emergency workers using heavy machinery to move the rubble of the mostly destroyed police station.
Books and a schoolbag could be seen in the wreckage and the twisted frames of a motorcycle and a car sat nearby.
A neighbourhood shop and mosque also were partly destroyed.
The police chief of Lakki Marwat was killed in a suicide bombing several months ago and anti-government fighters have carried out a string of attacks in the area since then.
Nearly 100 people were killed in suicide bombings on processions of minority Shia Muslims in the eastern city of Lahore and southwestern city of Quetta last week.
The attacks by fighters linked to al-Qaeda and the Taliban ended a lull in violence after Pakistan was hit by the worst floods in its history, which have affected nearly 20 million people and made millions of people homeless.